Police arrest 18 during joint operation using helicopter
Using a police helicopter to watch from above, Allentown police conducted a joint operation Thursday night that led to 18 arrests, including two men on gun charges and one man believed to be involved in a brutal robbery where the victim was hit in the head with the butt of an AK-47 rifle, police said.
Allentown police Chief Glenn Granitz Jr. described it as “a preplanned proactive operation,” that included state police’s aviation unit, the Lehigh County District Attorney’s drug and auto theft task forces, probation and parole, Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI. Allentown conducted a similar operation last month that resulted in 28 arrests, including one man wanted on an attempted homicide charge.
In Thursday’s operation, two of the arrests were the result of vehicles stops where police took guns off the street, court records say. The third arrest happened when a man, bleeding from his head, flagged down a police detective at 8:24 p.m. on North Seventh Street and reported that he had just been robbed by two men, one of them armed with an AK-47, court records say.
Capt. Bill Lake said the other arrests during the operation, which began at 4 p.m. and continued through the night, were for warrants and drug offenders, including one man charged with possession with intent to deliver.
According to a criminal complaint:
The man said the robbery happened in a home in the 100 block of North Seventh Street and described the man with the AK-47 rifle as having a mask that covered the bottom half of his face. The second man wore shorts, a white undershirt and had a satchel.
One of the responding officers saw a man fitting a description running from the area and detained him.
The man was later identified as Isaiah M. Clark, 22, of Allentown. The victim identified Clark as one of the men who robbed him, but not the one armed with the AK-47.
Police found $15, which had blood on it, and a bag of marijuana on Clark.
The man who said he was robbed told police he met with Clark to sell him some marijuana, and Clark led him to a second-floor apartment home in the 100 block of North Seventh Street, where the masked gunman entered the apartment. The masked gunman ordered the two men on the ground.
Clark got down, but the victim stood still and told him to “just take his marijuana.” Clark then stood up and grabbed the marijuana.
Clark then grabbed the victim by the hair and pulled him to the ground and told the gunman to hit him. The gunman hit him with the butt of his AK-47 rifle, causing a large gash to his head.
Clark, of the 400 block of Oak Street, was charged with robbery, simple assault, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal conspiracy. He was arraigned by District Judge Ron Manescu and sent to Lehigh County Jail under $75,000 bail.
Before that arrest, an Allentown police officer and a state trooper pulled over a vehicle at 7 p.m. in the 600 block of North Sixth Street for expired registration. Police smelled marijuana in the car and the passenger admitted to having some in his pocket.
During a search, police found a shoulder bag with marijuana and a loaded .38-Special revolver inside. The gun had been reported stolen in October to Colonial Regional police.
Police determined the bag belonged to the driver, Christian O. Rivera-Alicea, who was not allowed to have a gun because of a past felony drug conviction.
Rivera-Alicea, 31, of the 400 block of Grant Street in Allentown, was charged with prohibited possession of a firearm, firearms not to be carried without a license, receiving stolen property, possession of a small amount of marijuana and driving with expired registration. He was arraigned by District Judge Michael D’Amore and sent to Lehigh County Jail under $50,000 bail.
At 7:30 p.m., an Allentown police officer and a state trooper were conducting surveillance at Sixth and Allen streets when they spotted a vehicle with heavily tinted windows. Police stopped the car at Fifth and Allen streets and noticed the backseat passenger making movements.
Three people in the car were ordered out and police found marijuana on the backseat passenger, Taijon D. Edwards. Police later found a .380-caliber gun under the seat cushion where Edwards had been seated.
Edwards, 22, of the 700 block of South Woodward Street in Allentown, was charged with prohibited possession of a firearm, firearms not to be carried without a license and possession of a small amount of marijuana. He was also arraigned by D’Amore and sent to county jail under $50,000 bail.
Using a helicopter in its enforcement efforts is nothing new, Lake said. “Maybe it hasn’t been so apparent in the past,” he said, about teaming up with other agencies to fight crime in the city.
Lake said the department has been more proactive in getting guns, drugs and lawbreakers off the streets, in part, because of the violence this summer, which saw dozens of people injured by gunfire.
More operations may be planned for the future, but Granitz, aware of the concern residents shared on social media, said “we can’t tell people ahead of time.”
Manuel Gamiz Jr. can be reached at 610-820-6595 or at [email protected]